Developing Your Passions and Personal Brand in High School
What exactly is a personal brand, and how can you develop yours? Get the inside scoop on how to stand out from CollegeAdvisor.com.
Former Admissions Officer Rachael Moore will share her tips and advice on how to discover your passions and create your own personal brand for college applications during a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session.
In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered including:
– How do I determine and explore my passions?
– What should I do to develop a personal brand?
– How can I showcase my personal brand in the application?
Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-12-06 – Developing Your Passions and Personal Brand in High School
Hi everyone. Good evening and welcome to tonight’s webinar. My name is Anesha Grant. I am a Senior Advisor at CollegeAdvisor. I’ll be your moderator today. Today we are gonna discuss Developing Your Passions and Personal Brand for High School.
Before we get started, I just wanna orient everyone with webinar timing. Our presenter will share some tips, resources, and guidance, and then we will open up the floor to respond to your questions and a live Q&A on the side of you can download our, our slides under the handouts tab and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A tab.
Please make sure your questions. Direct at a general audience and are not too private or specific. And please do not send us questions in the chat. Please send them under the Q&A tab. Now let’s move forward and meet our presenter. Rachael. Hey Rachael. Hi Anesha. Hi everyone. I’m Rachael Moore. I’m an advisor, team lead and senior advisor as well as a former admissions officer here at CollegeAdvisor for, been working with this company for about a year and a half now, and absolutely love just working, you know, one on one with our students after being on the admissions side of it for as long as I was.
And I’m really excited to be here today to talk to you about personal brand. Thanks Rachael. Before we get started, we want to take a quick poll and ask you all to let us know what grade you are in. So that’ll help us give some direction to Rachael’s presentation tonight, just so she knows if we’re talking to freshmen and how much time you have, or we’re talking to seniors and trying to think about that brand and getting it in in these essays over the last last few weeks.
So please take a few minutes and let us know what grade you are currently in as we’re waiting for some responses. Rachael, do you have a favorite extracurricular that you like seeing on applications or that you enjoyed seeing when you came across, or a rare one? I guess. Ooh, that’s a really good question because students are just so unique.
You know, I’ve seen particularly this year, it’s not even that it’s a favorite, but that it’s really come across my, my radar a lot, a lot of students entrusted in the environment sustainability. And there’s some really amazing summer experiences that students can do exploring that as well. So I would say right now that’s, that’s kind of catching my eye a little bit more.
Nice. Nice. I love that. I have a lot of students who are doing a lot of mental health focus and starting trying to find different, unique ways to express their. Interests there. Yeah. I love the environment. Yeah. All right. We’re gonna go ahead and close the poll. And just so you know Rachael, that the majority of folks coming to us today are in 11th grade.
About 54% are currently in the 11th grade. 38% are in the 10th grade, and the remaining 8% are in the 12th grade. So we have a lot of juniors, a few sophomores, and then a couple of of seniors move in. So I will stop talking. I’ll be back a little bit later and I’ll hand it over to you. Okay, wonderful.
Thanks Anesha. Good evening, everybody. I love this mix of students that we have. One of the questions that I actually think might come up a little bit later on in the presentation is, when’s a good time to start your personal branding? And the answer, and you’ll say this in probably in a few minutes, but it’s.
Anytime starting it now it doesn’t matter what year you are, what stage of life you are, we all evolve and we’re in a world today where you know, how you present yourself really matters because with social media it’s everywhere. It’s everywhere. So having an understanding of just what that means, having a personal brand in high school is truly, I believe it’s a life skill. So the sooner you think about that and have more of an understanding of what that means and how you can develop that at this stage The better off you’re gonna be. Like I said, it’s a life skill, so throughout your lifetime and it’ll evolve too.
So, you know, that’s exciting too, like knowing that it’s sort of a living just like you, a living, breathing persona of how others perceive you and what you wanna, how you yourself want to be perceived. So with that I’ll just kind of dive into that first slide that we have here. You know, basically what is it?
And it, it’s a very intentional, crafted image of what you want to project about yourself. And it’s, you know, when you really think about it, It’s everywhere. Certainly when we’re talking about college admissions, it’s in your application and it’s all components of your application from the type of activities you’ve participated in, how you spend your time, which is really how I prefer to talk about the activity section.
If you’re in a one to one with me as your advisor it doesn’t have to be that stereotypical list of clubs and orgs in a school necessarily, but how you spend your time says a lot about you and your responsibilities your values, and some of the, you know, that you. Certainly on your resume which can be used for some applications, but also just helpful when you’re starting to look for internships and you know, those first jobs.
And also something to think about, especially the sophomores in the juniors in the room, are for brag sheets for your letter of recommendation requests when it comes time at the end of your junior year to start really putting some serious thought into who you would like to write a letter of recommendation for you.
So thinking about it again, you know, sharing information about you that you would like someone to be able to highlight in a letter. About you and supporting your candidacy. Obviously when we think about personal branding, a lot of times our minds automatically go to our social presence. And of course that’s important.
Anywhere that you’re represented online, from social media to website, to even news stories about an accomplishment that you are highlighted in. It doesn’t have to be on national news. It doesn’t have to be on the Today Show. But even, you know, a local news channel that’s highlighting what’s, you know, something you’re involved in, in your high school is doing.
But the other place that I was, I was presenting or preparing this presentation today that I was thinking about as well, is even when you make comments on social media, you know, you know, someone has a post, and then there are viewers who decide to make comments within an online community that is very much a social presence as well.
And so it’s always important to remember that what you’re saying, if it came across a pair of eyes that wasn’t nec, didn’t understand the context of what you’re talking about that it could be very much repre misrepresented. So even in those types of communities it’s really important that you think about how you’re communicating and what the, how it could be interpreted by someone.
And then finally, obviously in person certainly for interviews, but also campus visits or when you’re out and about in your social life. You know how, just the way that you present yourself that is really important for you to think about how, how your, you know, presence might be interpreted by others.
And I somehow lost my slides. So let me just, Anesha, are you there? I somehow just lost my slides, guys. Just if you could hang tight for a second.
Oh, there we go. Sorry about that, we lost something. Yeah. Like what just happened? Okay, so moving on to our next slide. Sorry for that pause there everyone. So again talking about, we talked at the very beginning about when can you start on your personal brand, but where, we’ll turn this more towards college advising.
Where in your application can you present your passions and your personal brand? And the answer truly is everywhere. You know, again, one of the things actually that I love about the uc application, which is just is off the top of my head because their, their deadline was November 30th is, you know, really being able to highlight how it is that you spend your time and in the common application, which inevitably a number of the schools that you apply to will use the common app location as well.
It’s much more about, you know, if you work talking about. Your work, if you are doing research, being able to really highlight the research and the interests that you have whether it’s academic type of groups, competitions, music, athletics, you know, service for sure, whatever it is that, you know, you spend your time doing.
That’s, it’s, you get a clue of it as an admissions officer. When we look at your activities and then we look at another layer of it through however you decide whatever it is you choose to write about in your personal statement, in your supplemental essays the classes that you choose to take beyond the requirements for graduation can tell about your.
And then your letters of recommendation can really reinforce what you’ve presented and all those other components of your application. So truly, you know, it, it’s everywhere and maybe just presented in a different light, whether it’s through a narrative in the personal statement, through a list with a short description and the resume or the activity section or in someone else’s perspective that they share about you in their letter of recommendation.
So why is this important? So it, when I think about making decisions for an application, one of the things that I think is helpful to keep in mind is we know what type of student is really going to thrive in our school. And what we also know is to have a really engaging, vibrant atmosphere where both, you know, the community members, like professors and other students and the administrators at a college as well as the student themselves, for us to all really thrive.
You have a diverse. Group of per or diverse perspectives, students and community members who have a wide range of experiences, so to contribute, to really vibrant conversations and dialogue on campus. And so why is that important or how do we shape that class? Well, it’s by the strength of a student being able to present that personal brand throughout their application.
You know, what’s the point of view or the perspective or background that you bring that would really, you know, add to the atmosphere there. So one of the things that I think is really helpful when you think about personal branding from an admissions perspective is when an admissions officer is finished reading your application.
What is it that you want them to think of when they hear or see your name? You know, maybe they’ve finished reading their files for the day and they, you know, have to put recommendations in for decisions with the files that they’ve read. When they see your name, what are the words that you want to come to mind?
And it should reflect, you know, what drives you? What are your values, your talents, your passions? What is it that you know, you want others to know, that you would love to engage with and present and develop further in a college community? Keep in mind too, that branding is, it’s more of a representation.
It’s not your reputation, so it’s not necessarily. What you’re doing day in and day out and how you perform your responsibilities, that’s a given. We all have those. It’s more what is it that drives you instead, what’s sort of the long term goal or you know, what just provides you the most joy and fulfillment and ability to contribute to something bigger than yourself.
Another way to think about it too, beyond college admissions is if a company needs someone with a specific talent or a perspective. If you want someone to be able to think about you. and if they’re in a position to make a recommendation for a hire or for someone to be considered for a job. And how does that happen?
Well, it’s being able to strongly and confidently just present who you are with enthusiasm. So again, just something, you know, as you start to develop that idea of what branding is, I think that’s a really helpful way to think about it.
Okay. So how does a strong personal brand play in college admissions? I want you to really think about what lights your fire. A lot of you can say right off the bat what it is that you’re really into, how it is that you spend your time, but a lot of us don’t. Maybe. You know, we do the things we’re supposed to, you know, we go to school, we do our homework, we have our responsibilities and our families, our loved ones.
But what is it over the course of a day or a week or a year that you participate in or engage with that really your fire? How can you think about that or really decide what that means for you? You know, really think about when you’re doing something. Think about a time that you just get really excited or just feel happy and fulfilled.
That’s something that you wanna dig deeper into. Really consider that further, and maybe you actually haven’t even explored it much further. Start now. Start, you know, Maybe it’s drawing or your art class and you’re just really happy when you’re there, but you’ve never actually formally done any, you know, art beyond what was required for that class.
You know, maybe pick up a couple books or do some online tutorials on YouTube or, you know, talk to your teacher, some of the other art students about things that they do within art, or try out new mediums and really start to pay attention to why do you enjoy it so much? You know, is it the whole, is it a process?
Is figuring out what you wanna create? Is it the actual getting your hands dirty? Really having an idea of bringing to life what’s in your mind? Is it the end product? Whatever it is, you know, really start pulling that apart and thinking about it. Being mindful with that, because that’s gonna help you to communicate what it is that you’re all about that perspective, you know, that excitement and drive that you bring to the table.
Now, when you think about branding and college admissions, then you, if you have, assuming now at this point, you have a good idea of something that really lights your fire personally and you start exploring your schools. and inevitably there are gonna be schools that you love. There are gonna be schools that you quickly take off of your list and that’s normal.
That is a healthy part of the process. But really in those schools that you start to really identify with as a place that you’d like to explore further or even apply to you, what is it specifically that excites you about that school? If you work with me as an advisor, I’m always going to say you can, you know, of course I want you to be able to feel comfortable adding ano as many schools as you want to the list, but you have to give me a why.
Why is it that you’re excited about it? And same as if you want to take a school off of the list, also equally important and healthy. But you have to be able to tell me why, so that we can better articulate what it is that is getting you excited and it you are able to tap into that makes it a good fit, that you can deep dive further into becoming a really engaged competitive candidate for that school.
And truly in the application process, I believe that the magic happens when you can really present yourself as, here’s who I am, this is what I, you know, the perspective that I bring or the experiences I’ve had, and. Why you’ll thrive in that school’s environment very organically. By the time you go through this process of researching your schools and really presenting your best self in the application, you know that it, it very organically an admissions officer should be able to see the alignment and why you’re a good fit there.
Okay, and how, just a little bit, just adding to that a little bit more, you know, what makes college exciting? I think there are many things, but you know, we’re, it’s a time in life where you’re focused on growing and really colleges and students help each other to be the best versions of themselves. Again, going back to magic happening, finding that mutually good fit between a college and a student.
At the end of the day, again, we know who thrives in our environment. Generally. You know, you, you’re there to keep growing and becoming better yourselves, both as a school and as a student. And it’s the students that really help us to get better over time. So, and we talked about how, you know, it’s that you bring a unique point of view.
Be confident in that point of view, truly. Students always think that, or many times they think, you know, that there’s a right answer to or a right way to do a college application. That the admissions office is looking for something specific and it’s up to you to figure out or guess what that is. It could not be further from the truth, the.
Answer is to how to present yourself in an application is to be authentic and to be you and to share, you know, be comfortable sharing that with the admissions office as well.
We have a quick look. PSA for the seniors who in the space. So seniors application deadlines are right around the corner as you, I’m sure you all are aware of. Make sure your supplemental essays are in tip top shape with CollegeAdvisor’s new essay editing packages. These packages are designed to help you all in the thick of the application process who aren’t yet working with CollegeAdvisor.com.
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Thanks, Rachael. My pleasure. Okay, so we talked a lot at this point about. What a personal brand is. But what are ways that you can build your passions and your personal brand? I really believe that it’s a, you know, very introspective process. We talked a lot about like thinking about what lights your fire, what gets you excited.
So the next part of that is getting to the deeper part of, well, why and you can’t expect an answer right away necessarily. But really thinking about, you know, for me, when I was in high school, it was being a swimmer on the high school team, and I couldn’t get, I couldn’t be in the water enough. I just, I loved the way it felt.
I loved the camaraderie of the team. It so many as I loved the wellness aspect of it. And so being able to speak to that and keep going a layer deeper and deeper, that’s gonna help you to really present to someone what it is. You know that you know how thoughtful you are and how intentional you are in what whatever it is that you decide to pursue.
So definitely just think about when is it that I’m at my best? And I would definitely start out doing that on your own, whether it’s journaling whether it is, you know, just quiet, reflecting if you’re under or you work out, you’re out on a run, whatever it is. But take some time to just really be alone with your thoughts and keep, I think about it sometimes as like, peeling layers of an onion.
You know, you just keep going deeper and deeper. And so what is it actually that makes me do this every day or wanna get back to keeping doing whatever activity it is that lights are fire? Once you’ve done that I really great exercise to do is think about how. Do others describe you and takes a little vulnerability, admittedly.
So make sure that you choose people whose opinion you genuinely respect and who have your best interest at heart, and ask them how would they describe you? What do they most like or respect about you? Where do they see you at your best? And see does your perception of yourself and their perception of you align?
Are there similar characteristics, but maybe, you know, the way you see yourself with a certain per characteristic. Maybe someone else sees it, but they see it in a different light. You know? And maybe there are surprises too because we get so hyper focused on certain elements of ourselves or around us that maybe we miss others.
So really, like I said, this piece, it’s really important to sort of have a personal understanding before you start asking those who have your best interest at heart. And I’d keep it to a minimum because it’s, it’s vulnerable and it’s a wonderful practice, but. If you ask those who truly really know you, you’re, you’re gonna get the most out of this experience.
And after you reflect a little bit, just start to be a little bit more intentional about how you engage with your world. You know, where can you continue to pursue what it is that lights your fire? Are there gaps? You know, maybe there’s an interest that you really have, but you actually haven’t spent a lot of time exploring it.
You know, you have an idea of something you really enjoy, but you know, you just haven’t had the resources to really pursue it further. Now’s the time to, whether it’s personal research, reading. Going online, taking a class, you know, getting involved in certain experiences in your community or school, you know, give it a shot if there’s something that you think would help to, you know, help deepen your exploration of what it is that you’re interested in.
The other piece that I would say is important to think about too, when you’re thinking about building that brand is really when you start thinking about where there are gaps or areas to strengthen that, that really reflect what you wanna present about yourself or explore. Make sure that you are more intentional about how, where you align yourself to those opportunities, but also the relationships.
There’s that old saying that you are the company you keep, and I think it’s important, you know, you don’t have to take that. Completely, literally all the time. Diverse perspectives and backgrounds are also really important, but it doesn’t mean they all have to be just like you, but really thinking about one’s values and interests, you know, certainly start to build that community surrounding yourself where you can dig deeper and have that supportive atmosphere that you can and community to keep going back to and grow.
So other ways to build your brand, you know, make yourself visible. The more you know about yourself, the more you put yourself in a position where you’re pursuing your interest and sharing that. And also being able to support others is they grow and sh have those shared interests. Again, we just sort of become better versions of ourselves and we also get the opportunity to lift each other up.
So, you know, for all the time and energy or thought that someone puts into supporting you, remember to do that with others as well. So that, again, that sort of strength in numbers there, having your own community, being able to support each other in times when each of you needs it. There’s really strength that comes from that.
Summer, good time to build my personal brand. So my answer to this is, this is how we started the presentation. Every living breathing moment is an opportunity to build your brand. Yes, summer is a great time. So is the upcoming winter break as well. Although it, it can be pretty crazy depending on one’s traditions, but, you know, taking some time to reflect and like I said, whether it’s journaling, just spending some time listening to music.
However it is that you spend time to decompress on your own, really think through who you are, where you want to be and start looking for are there. Between where you are now and where you wanna be and what can you do to help yourself get closer to where it is you ultimately want to be. Sometimes it takes some really tough choices to make room to make that growth happen.
But you know, certainly any time’s a good time, but summer, you know, the winter break can be, you know, allow for a little bit more space to do that.
So my final tips on building a personal brand this is all gonna sound a little cliche, but I promise you it’s sincere. Be you, if you take anything from this presentation, there’s a lot of things I’d like you to take cuz I believe so passionately in what a skill this is for you in life. Be confident being you.
And I know that can be hard especially as we’re growing and figuring things out, but you know, there, there’s only, when you in the application process, there’s only, only you can tell your story, you know? So be intentional about how it is you spend your time and who you wanna be. You know, set realistic expectations, you know, and be honest with yourself, I think is really critically important.
You know, is the version of yourself, what you want others to see, or it, and does it reflect how you feel inside? And what do people actually see about you? Be really. You know, intentional about your relationships so that you are around people where you can be the best version of yourself. And the final piece I would also say is be brave.
This is not easy stuff at all. You know, personal growth. It’s a lifelong process and it can be really scary. But it can be incredibly exciting and rewarding as well. And there’s no time like preparing for college and being in high school to really test the waters and think about where is it you wanna go and why.
And really start to put together, you know, opportunities or seek out those opportunities or your intention to pursue that. Because you certainly deserve that. We all have talents, we all have, you know, our strengths and we have areas of opportunity. And it, it takes courage and vulnerability to really be upfront about those and pursue what’s best for us.
So I just wish you luck with all of that.
Rachael for that, that was a very lovely note to end on. I always love the college audition process. I consider it the modern, like rite of passage because it is this time for reflection and, and really thinking about who’s the person you wanna be moving forward. So I appreciate that note. For the audience, that is the end of the presentation, part of the webinar.
We hope you found the information helpful and remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab. We’re gonna move on to the live Q&A. I will read questions aloud that you have shared in the Q&A tab. I’ll pace them into the public chat so that everyone can see them, and they’re sh and then share them with Rachael so that she can answer.
As a heads up, if your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you’ve joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page. You might have to log out and log back in. All right, let’s get started with the questions. The first question I think is in reaction to some pieces you were sharing earlier around social media.
So the question is, is your brand negatively effective if you are not active on social media? So can you, I guess, I guess expand a little bit on the relationship between Brandon and how colleges or admissions offices are thinking about social media? Sure. That’s a great question. I feel like we could do, maybe that is an idea for our next session it’s endless the conversation we could have on social media. Well, I think it’s important to understand like social media in and of itself is not bad. In fact, it can be really good. And I think it’s just being intentional about how you choose to use it. What, you know, certainly may seem like a good use of it or now it’s important to have a little savviness and maturity to think about what are you using it for?
Which is why I love this question so much. So, You know, if you’re using it, you know, to keep in touch with others, friends, family, you know, it certainly does connect us around the globe. And ways we couldn’t before then. I think that’s great. But what is it, what’s, what is it about you that you want the takeaway to be by whatever it is that you post?
So I would say if you think you’re in a position where you’re not gonna make wise choices in what you post or that it could be misconstrued, then I’d encourage you to stay away from it. But I would also say like there are a lot of positives. I mean, there are groups that I’m a part of on social media, like surrounding wellness or, you know, I’m a mom, you know, that are parenting or education related that I find so much wonderful support and connection and information from.
So I think it’s just important to think about how it is that you want to. Use it, and then the more you’re consistent, you know, for example, even if you’re on Twitter or later on as you’re on LinkedIn or Facebook, or, gosh, now it’s Instagram, all of this in TikTok, you know, who is it that you’re following?
I think that’s important to think about too, because it really truly does all feed into your brand. Does that help? I think it was helpful for me. , you have additional follow up, I guess in the, in the q&a, but one this student did submit a little bit of a of a, I guess addition as just like col, can colleges look at your online presence?
Mm-hmm, are you disadvantaged if you don’t have an online presence? No. No. I would not suggest that you’re at a disadvantage. I mean, definitely admissions officers might look, but keep in mind they do not have time either to just pour over every single, you know, Area that you might be? I’ll tell you where I’m more likely to look into social media is if there was just a really unique, you know, project that was really notable that had gotten some attention.
And that was highlighted at some place in the application or you know, students who are, you know, say they have a blog or like that’s something that they really present about themselves. I might hop on there just to see. But it’s really not something I’m going out of my way to look at. Yeah, and I will say, I think I’ve had, I was mentioned in students who did mental health sessions and a lot of them have leveraged that.
Mm-hmm. leveraged social media as a way to expand their reach for their particular mental health resources. And so they may not share their personal, but they might share the, the like Instagram or, or you know, what have you handle for, for their specific passion project that they’ve leveraged social media to, to talk about and brand for.
I think you touched on this a little bit, but I know personal brand is a little bit nebulous when it comes to how it’s evaluated on the applications. So the student said, how much is it weighted in the application evaluation? How does it show up? Or how are our admissions officers talking about it? Mm-hmm.
in the, as they’re reviewing applications. That’s a great question. I love that. It’s not that, I mean, I could say I’ve never looked at it and said, what’s the student’s personal brand? You know it, or I think the term I use most often when I talk about looking at the application as a whole is, I think I talked earlier, I think this is what Anish is probably referring to, is when I close that application.
and I’m just sort of reflecting on what I just reviewed and the person, you know, as a whole academically, personally, you know, fit to school. You know, what are the words that come to your mind and the words when I get a really strong like, sense and like description of that student, it’s because they really took time with every element of their application.
You know, describing how you’re involved in your co-curricular involvement whatever it is that you chose to write about in your supplemental essays or your personal statement maybe even what someone wrote about you in the letters of recommendation. It’s those words that it’s themes. That come up that really present as a brand, but it’s not this formal, what’s the student’s brand?
I can’t say that that’s the common topic, but it’s tell me who this student is, which is essentially the same. But it’s not this formal. Like there’s no rating. You know, like what’s a student’s brand, strength of brand? That’s not, that’s not part of it. When I, when I start the conversation around brand with my students, I say like, what are the three things you want them to be able to take away from you?
And then, You know, from your application overall. And then I’m like, okay, are we talking about it in this essay? Are we talking about it? Are we referencing these kind of values in different areas just to show consistency more than anything else of like it being a thing that I think college admissions officers are looking for in their
I can actually, just off the top of my head, it’s really timely actually a student that I was working with last night and she is made to go into research more like medical research and she’s really had incredibly unique opportunities that she’s pursued for. You know, summer experiences in research, some in hospitals, some with the university lab.
This is not necessarily your typical student by the way, but I just think I’m using this as a really great example. And her personal statement was really, it started out talking about how she’s come to realize that it’s being in the lab and not necessarily a doctor and how she came to that. But then you go to, you look at her activities list and you see some research she’s done, but you know, also different sort of organizations that she’s been a part of and had an opportunity to present at because of the research she’s done or the groups that she’s like social media that she’s been a part of.
So the reason I share that is, Every single piece of that application is a different layer or a different perspective. It was how did I come to this idea of this is what I wanna do, and then another part is this is, you know, like more how I dove deeper into it, and then some of the supplements. Sort of dovetail off of that, talking about the specifics of what she wants to do or why at a certain school, what it is about that school that she’s really intrigued and hopes to take advantage of.
So that’s a really lengthy answer, but I think it helps to give some picture to how that all comes together. There’s not one way to say it. I think this is an interesting question, speaking to brand, it says, what if your brand and the brand of the school that you want to attend are incongruence?
Should you shift your brand and focus on the school’s brand and reinforce how much you support it? Yeah, that’s an interesting question. I don’t know how you tackle that
I mean, my response if we’re in a one to one advising session is why are you applying to that school? And we’re gonna focus on that why? Until we can come to some sort of agreement that we’re not gonna agree and have the co pros and cons to that. But also, you know, really understanding that if there’s not a match there, if it’s an admissions officer can sniff out.
Really easily if it’s authentic or if it’s sincere or not. So, you know, I think that’s really important. You know, I just, that’s gonna be very cliche, but if you’re applying to a name brand institution, you know, highly selective, well, there are tens of thousands who apply to some of those schools, you know, and when there are more students who qualified and there are spaces in the class, you want the sincere, really authentic stories and perspectives as to why that’s a great fit.
And an admissions officer can tell, you know, if it, if it is sincere or.
Yeah, you gave a, you gave a thoughtful answer. I think my, my response would be the same as yours, which would just be like, you shouldn’t apply to that school with your values. Like you shouldn’t apply to it. I, I, you know, I have, I’m sure you’ve had students who are like, I wanna apply to all the Ivy’s. And it’s like, absolutely.
You don’t have a brand and you’re not thinking about values because those are seven unique schools that don’t over, don’t overlap and don’t have the same kind of like, at all focus and, and aren’t gonna serve you in the same way. So, yeah. I’ll actually give sort of a response that you were probably thinking of before.
I’d love it. I’ve now used it so many times since this colleague used it. That one said a few weeks ago, like, well, I still might apply to this iv, just why not? And my colleague said, well, if you’ve got 70 bucks to burn in two weeks, I guess. Why not, but is that really the best use of your time and your money?
So I think that’s really just something to, to consider. It really is that simple sometimes. This is an interesting question. Someone asked, what is the contrast between brand and passion? Hmm. It’s not a contrast. I would say. What you’re passionate about and how you choose to engage with that passion that really sort of becomes part of your brand.
You know, I think. A musician, I mean, someone who’s just lives and breathes music, you know, or playing their instrument or involved in, you know, so many different groups. Performance taking lessons, and. You know, your, the passion is music. You know, what you, what it does for you, how you choose to engage with it that becomes the brand.
Does that make sense? That make sense to me? I think your, your passion can be a part of the brand that you’re demonstrating. Absolutely. Yeah. And, and your passion is to come through on the brand that you present, but it doesn’t, I think they can be part in parcel of each other. They don’t have to be two different things.
So Yeah, for sure. Actually, I’d argue you probably can’t do one without the other in some respects. Yeah. It’s hard to have a brand if you don’t have like a focus or passion. That’s fair. Yeah. Yeah. And it doesn’t mean, not everyone has like that one thing that they just, you know, they could do 24/7, but you know, like I think about my work, you know, I’m not necessarily working 24/7.
I, but there are elements that I get to do in this job that transmit to other parts of my life, like with the relationships and love of education, and so maybe that’s a better example too. Right. I’m gonna pivot for a quick little commercial, but for those in the room who aren’t currently working with us, we know how overwhelmed the process can be.
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Definitely feel free to take advantage of that and we’ll get back to the q a. The next question that I wanted to ask was how do you suggest demonstrating authenticity in your brand? Is there enough space to give examples, I guess, of how you’ve lived out that brand?
This shouldn’t be a hard answer, but I’m thinking about how I can describe it without an example in front of me. And it just could, it’s just where my brain’s at right now. So it’s gonna line up the different elements of your application. It are going to line up in some respect. So how it is that you spend your time, what it is that you choose to write about, you know, the classes that you choose to take, you know, at if they honor honors and offer honors and APs or an international Baccalaureate diploma, which isn’t quite as common in a lot of areas, but, you know, all this different types of things can even demonstrate, you know, just what interests you and how you wish to engage academically.
You know, how you spend your time, whether it’s supporting students or, I’m sorry, supporting family members or working or, you know, You know, different classes are participating in sports or doing service and then whatever it is that you chooses to write about, there’s going to be in alignment somewhere where we get to see what it is that you value, what it is that interests you.
So you know, if you’re, I’ll tell you the best way to tell that something’s not really authentic or that you just didn’t take the time, is one of the things I say is an admissions officer is don’t repeat my marketing material back to me. So if you get like a lot of college supplements, have a, why are you entrusted in our school?
You it. It’s the student that really takes the time to explain why. You know, like based on your interests, your goals, how you felt on campus, as opposed to what I could find in five seconds on my website. That’s, you know, as an admissions officer, I know my institution, I don’t need you to tell me, I need to know why you are a great fit here and what’s organic.
You know, like what organically resonates with in you about being part of this community, how you could see yourself contributing to it. So that is one of the biggest places where you can sniff out the authenticity. And then based on what you’re interested in about that school, what about your activities, your values, the classes?
Did you take that? Does it support what you said you wanna do at that school or why you love that school? I think I’ve had to caution a few students around what I call brochure language of like, I’m excited to take advantage of the 300 sports, but which sports? Like they know they have three.
I’m just saying like, what’s that look like for.
Someone asked, what if a sport is at the heart of your personal brand? Does that take away from your academic success? Not if you’ve really dedicated to your academic success? For sure. I think I know what’s being asked, but if, you know, if not, definitely ask a clarifying question to make sure I do answer it.
But, you know, you choose to decide what you wanna emphasize in your application. And sometimes I think athletes feel a little nervous. Like they don’t just wanna be labeled as an athlete, even though they have truly dedicated, you know, everything outside of class and to that sport. Like, I love to hear that story.
I want to know that story, but I wanna know what it is about it. That you love about it? Why have you committed to it so extensively? And where do you wanna go now, you know, there’s this new stage of life that you’re entering and maybe that sport is still part of it, but it’s certainly gonna look different because you’re on a co, you’re also part of a college community.
So it’s, you know, it’s what you choose to share about yourself and how you present that. That becomes the story. You do get to choose the story. Yeah. I think that sometimes students get caught up in trying to present what they think Colleges want to hear that they forget, that they can just tell their own unique story.
Like that colleges wanna hear who you are. And there’s not anything in particular that they’re looking. So if you are have been an athlete, great. Tell us about the why that’s meaningful for you. And also, yes, we do care about your academics, . Tell us the story about your academics, if you feel that, you know, your transcript tells that story as well.
One question was, how can I best it, and I think you got to this, but just to give some more tips around representing brand in essays. So how can I best exhibit my personal brand in a personal essay? So it’ll personally depend upon what prompts resonate with you. So for those of you who may not be so com familiar with yet you know, usually if I’m working with a student, I say, let’s start with the common application.
Inevitably, the vast majority of students are going to have at least one school that takes the common application, maybe all of them. And part of the common application is a personal statement, 650 words. And seven, I think different topics. The last one being choose your own basically. And I generally encourage students to choose just free.
Write three or so, you know, half a page, two thirds of a page. Don’t worry about perfection, just get your thoughts out and see what story you start to tell. That’ll start to determine the direction. There’s going to be one or two that are really strong contenders and you may even surprise yourself, or it may really line up with what we’ve already talked about.
But there’s not, you know, from there we can look to, we can make sure that it’s, you’re presenting a person that you feel you want people to know about you, and how does it connect with the other components of the application as well. That’s a help. It’s so vague sometimes when it’s not, it’s hard. Yeah.
You know, without the specificity. Yeah. And the essay, like, a lot of the questions are, it depends. It depends on how you write, depends on what you wanna write about. So, yeah. Yeah. I mean, there are students who, you know, I mean, gosh, for, for every student there is, there’s a different type of story to tell.
We’ve talked about that. You know, cause there’s only one you, and that all sounds really cliche, but you know, it’s even how you interpret the same question. You have hundreds of different interpretations of the same question. So it’s hard to give a specific answer. The best advice I can give is do take the time to reflect, take the time to just really see what comes out on paper and then, You know, what feels right.
And I think that’s a task for juniors right now. I’m having my juniors do that of like, let’s pick three topics or you know, three that, you know, rise to the top from the common app and, and just start writing about them. So that you have a little bit of a writing foundation to go into next year. The last question, it’s never gonna go to waste.
That’s the one thing I’ll say. Students are like, oh my gosh, do I have to spend all that time? And I can promise you it’s not going to go to waste. And we could go on that, you know, again, a whole other presentation, but it will be worth your time, I promise. , our, our last question of the night is gonna be, how can I build a brand if I don’t have or have not had a lot of opportunities for extracurricular activities at my school?
What would the brand be centered around? Yeah, so that’s where the reflection piece comes in. There are many of us who don’t, you know, because of just. Life circumstances, other responsibilities? Or just, you know, certainly just time. You know that you haven’t spent on a particular passion or you just, nothing struck you yet.
This is where you spend that time reflecting. Well, what gets me excited, you know, and maybe. It’s a certain type of class that you take at school. You know, maybe it’s an English class and you did a poetry assignment or creative writing assignment, and there was something about the process that really excited you.
Well, what was that? You know, is it the creativity? Is it that it’s something new? Maybe you’re more adventurous than you realized, you know? And it doesn’t have to be a formal activity, but maybe you go hiking a lot, you know, on the weekends, you know the start to think about why you do the things that you do.
And if there are responsibilities you have that, you know, what is it in those responsibilities that, you know, we all have things we like about them and things that just don’t feel tolerable. So start thinking about that and where could you build off that a little bit? So reflection is key in this whole process.
Yes. And we will leave it at that. That is the end of the webinar. Thank you for joining us tonight. Thank you, Rachael for your time and thoughtfulness. We hope that you gained some insights and tips and strategies for developing and refining your personal brand for college admissions. Also, we hope you’ll join us for another webinar this month.
We’ll offer tips on Navigating the SAT and ACT on December 14th. We’ll offer strategies on Crushing the College Interview on the 15th and before the holiday season starts, we have sessions to support writing the MIT Supplemental Essays on the 19th and tackling the University of Chicago Supplemental Essays on the 21st.
So we hope to see you soon. But until next time, have a great evening everyone. Bye everyone.